WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - When a man meets with the father of his one true love to ask for her hand in marriage, butterflies, anxiety and sweaty palms are a certainty. Minutes feel like hours. Hours feel like days.
But imagine if the father of the woman you want to marry is vice president of the United States. And your 7:30 p.m. train to Washington, D.C., breaks down.
That was the case for Dr. Howard David Krein.
"It was a long drawn out affair," Jill Biden said in an exclusive interview with The News Journal last week about the wedding today of Krein and her daughter Ashley Blazer Biden. Jill Biden agreed to be interviewed on the condition that the information be kept private until today.
"He said to Joe, 'I'm taking the train down to D.C.' But the night kept going on and on and on. He kept emailing saying, 'The train broke down.' "
Jill went to bed because she had to teach the next morning. Krein finally got there at 1 a.m.
"He asked for Ashley's hand and of course Joe said yes," Jill said.
Today, Ashley and Krein will exchange vows at the same church where she was baptized, St. Joseph on the Brandywine, in a joint Jewish-Catholic ceremony. It will be followed by a reception at the Biden residence in Greenville. Media are not invited to either event.
The couple and the Bidens have kept details of the ceremony private in accordance with the wishes of the bride. Some details will stay secret until the bride walks down the aisle.
Jill did say that the 27-person bridal party includes Ashley's brother, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden; his wife, Hallie Biden; their children, Natalie and ring bearer Hunter; as well as Ashley's other brother, Hunter Biden; his wife Kathleen, and their daughters Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy. Krein's brother Steven, will be his best man and Howard's sister and sister-in-law will be among the party.
"The entire family is in the wedding." Jill said. "I kidded Ashley. I said, "Nobody is going to be in the pews!' "
The 200 guests will be primarily family and Delaware friends, with few from D.C. While the Secret Service will be in charge of security, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will not be among the guests, Jill said.
"We wanted to keep it family and close friends of Ashley's," she said.
Like many brides, Ashley wants details about her wedding gown hush-hush, but Jill did hint that the gown's designer dresses many celebrities.
"I'm not going to tell any details because it's a surprise for her dad and for Howard. No one has seen the dress except for me and her maid of honor." That will be Ashley's best friend since first grade, Avigail Dadone, who graduated from Wilmington Friends in 1999 and currently works in human resources in New York.
Jill did say her fuchsia dress is from Neiman Marcus in King of Prussia, Pa.
Beau Biden introduced the bride and groom in late 2010, Jill said. Howard proposed to Ashley about a year later, at sunset on a cliff in Big Sur, Calif.
Ashley, who turns 31 on Friday, is a social worker and career development/education liaison for the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. A Cherry Hill, N.J., native, Krein is a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and an ardent Philadelphia Flyers fan.
The couple shares a passion in giving to the underprivileged. Howard spends two weeks each year in Belize performing reconstructive surgery on children with facial deformities. After the wedding they plan to live in Philadelphia.
"Howard is the perfect guy," Jill said. "He's perfect for Ashley."
Krein took Jill to a Flyer-Penguins playoff game in April for some one-on-one future-mother-in-law future-son-in-law time.
"That was like so exciting," said Jill, also a huge Flyers fan. "The game took forever because they had to keep breaking up the fights and everything. We didn't get the (Stanley) Cup, but you know what? The games were great."
The wedding will reflect the couple's grounded desire for a romantic, country-themed affair.
"Ashley did not want it formal," Jill said, "so it's a very relaxed, comfortable, intimate kind of a wedding with family and friends."
All of the couple's vendors are local, including Toscana To Go Catering and a wedding cake from Kennett Square's Gourmet Cakes and Dessert by Liz Marden, whom Jill knows from their days teaching together at Delaware Tech.
The food service is designed to be more about friends breaking bread together and sharing a meal.
"Family style is the way we serve," said chef Dan Butler, "so things are on platters on the ends of the tables and people serve themselves. It creates conversation."
The menu for the 200 guests, who will dine under a tent in the Biden's backyard, includes locally grown items such as heirloom tomatoes and baby arugula. Service will be a hybrid of buffet and sit-down.
In addition to Butler, food will be prepared by Piccolina Toscana chef de cuisine Robbie Jester, Toscana catering chef Jason Barrowcliff and Deep Blue executive chef Matt Crist.
"Each guy gets his duty," Butler said. "And we all want to hit it out of the park."
Over the years, the Bidens have frequented Toscana often, and they have enlisted the services of Butler and his staff several times before. But today's festivities are a bit different for the Wilmington restaurateur.
"This has been in the back of our minds since six months ago," Butler said.